Fans who download No Love Deep Web through Death Grips’ website first have to click past an enormous image of the album’s cover art: a photo of an erect penis, extended like a giant middle finger. The members of the guerrilla glitch-rap trio have left no doubt who that “fuck you” is directed toward. By their account, their label, Epic, opted to delay the record’s release until next year, stymieing the group’s plans to put out two albums in 2012. Death Grips had already sacrificed for that goal, canceling a full tour (and alienating a chunk of their growing fan base) to finish their sophomore record, and they proved willing to burn bridges with Epic over it, too. “The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you,” the group tweeted shortly before posting No Love Deep Web for free online.
Beyond Death Grips’ summer tour and their relationship with the major label where they were never likely to fit in, the greater casualty of the group’s two-album pledge is the new album itself, which would have benefited greatly from a longer gestation period. Where Death Grips’ galvanizing spring debut, The Money Store, felt like the exciting opening salvos of a revolution, capturing the thrill of the first pipe-bomb explosion, No Love Deep Web channels the fatigue of that same revolution as it stretches into its sixth month. It’s the work of a band that has overextended itself, so determined to recreate the chaos and aggression of its debut that it failed to match its songcraft and innovation.
Even at a meaty 46 minutes, the album still suffers from a feeling of writer’s block. Though MC Ride still raps as if through a bandana gasmask, shouting over Zach Hill and Andy Morin’s corrosive, electro-industrial-break production in an enraged bark, he struggles to find the words to equal his conviction. “I got some shit to say, just for the fuck of it,” he huffs on the uninspiring chorus to “Lock Your Doors.” On “Deep Web,” he rivals the album cover for empty shock, hollering, “I’m the coat hanger in your man’s vagina!” It’s disappointing hearing such a vital sound wasted on such half-formed material, especially since, by every indication, the group has a better record in it than this. No Love Deep Web is a cautionary tale of misplaced punk ideals, a so-so album the group rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline it set for itself, then released in protest of a label it voluntarily signed to.